Flexibility is key

I’ve discovered that there’s a major difference between going on vacation versus living a mobile lifestyle.  A vacation has a definitive beginning and ending with very little to no flexibility.  A mobile lifestyle offers oodles of flexibility.

"Life is a beautiful ride" I enjoyed window shopping at La Canterra
“Life is a beautiful ride” I enjoyed window shopping at La Cantera

As a matter of fact, flexibility is key to enjoying this full-time RVing lifestyle.  After all, we’re pulling/driving our home full-time and arriving to our next destination safely and fully intact is always the goal.  With that said, a key component to a long travel day is the weather.  The ability to change travel plans on a whim based on the weather is wonderful.

Al and I had allowed ourselves fourteen days to travel the 1,165 miles (1,872km) from Rockport, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona.  That gave us the flexibility to roll with the weather, as well as give us options; get to Phoenix a week early, or take our time Rockport egretmeandering along the way, or extend our stay in Rockport, which we seriously thought about – considering I wasn’t quite ready to bid farewell to the scenery OR the birds.

But that weather…. winter weather at that, made the decision for us.  We hit the road while good road conditions prevailed.  Plus, we usually prefer driving through major cities on a Saturday or Sunday.  Sunday morning (January 31st) had us navigating through San Antonio, Texas toward the northwest part of town without issue.  We settled into the Elk’s Lodge for what we thought would be a quick overnight stay.

That evening, we easily made a change of plans while reviewing the weather and road conditions for Interstate 10.  High wind warnings accompanied by brown out conditions (blowing dirt) followed by freezing rain along Interstate 10 in west Texas and New Mexico had us hanging out in San Antonio for an extra night, then two.

Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas
Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

Ah, what’s a gal to do parked in a less than scenic parking lot without a vehicle at her disposal?  How about visit the Shops at La Canteraneighboring mall for a little retail therapy and architectural photography?  The Shops at La Cantera did not disappoint.

The weather was gorgeous which allowed me to hike this beautiful outdoor mall a couple of times.  While strolling the mall, I enjoyed the window shopping, the trickling sounds of water features, and the fragrant smell of all the lush vegetation. Shops at La Cantera

Although the mall had all the usual stores, the architecture was anything but boring.  There was a unique feel – a combination of new, yet old.  I think it was the blending of materials and angles that attracted my attention.  One minute I was walking on concrete, then the next I was moseying across cobblestone pavers, then it was on to ceramic tile, or stone, or slate…. and that’s what was happening just under my feet.Shops at La Cantera

Overhead was another visual delight; a combination of canopies, overhangs, or open blue sky adding another layer of ambiance.  Each store front had its own special detail, wall color, and finish.  Some of the stone used throughout the outdoor mall had a resemblance to that of the Alamo.shops at la canteraI must admit, for a split second I felt a little guilty about being in San Antonio and spending all my time at the Shops at La Cantera.  This city offers so many fabulous things to see and do, but since we weren’t unhooking the truck from the 5th wheel, driving anywhere was not an option.  Plus, during shops at la canteraprevious visits to San Antonio, we’d already visited the River Walk, Alamo, and Missions.

The Shops at La Cantera is a rather large mall, which allowed me to get in plenty of exercise, but lead to working up an appetite.  The day before departure, I retrieved hubby, and we were off to visit Penny at the Cheesecake Factory.  Their large size entrees are perfect for taking half the meal home providing lunch on the road the following day.  Yum!

Our flexible schedule allowed us to avert inclement weather, and extend our stay in San Antonio.  The delay was indeed pleasurable and I might have even pulled out of town with a few new items in my already full closet, but I’m not admitting anything  😉Shops at La Cantera

With blue skies and dry roads, we were on the road again.  And for anyone who has ever driven across Texas knows, it goes on for what seems forever.  We try to avoid staying in Van Horn, Texas, but we were on a mission to head west as quickly as san antoniopossible in an attempt to avoid the next wave of weather expected to hit this part of the country.

It was a 6-7 hour travel day between San Antonio and Van Horn, Texas (431 miles or 694 km).  We found a less than memorable campground to overnight in since the Walmart is out of the question.  Yep, no overnighting at the Walmart allowed in this town.  Van Horn? –  you know the saying, “if you can’t say anything nice……..”.

The next morning, we along with the rest of the RV’s were quick to exit Van Horn.  We made it through El Paso and into New Mexico and I was hugging rocks by early afternoon ……

Adios Texas - until we meet again!
Adios Texas – until we meet again!

 

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Strolling the River Walk

From The Alamo we walk over to San Antonio’s River Walk.  San Antonio, Texas, offers a vibrant downtown that’s beautiful, active, and full of history.River Walk

San Antonio Texas

Al and I find ourselves strolling the paths that meander along the river passing stone archways, fountains, and lush vegetation.  I can’t help but wonder about its history.  When was it built and why?  During lunch, I scoured through all the booklets and info on the area that I picked up at the visitor center and I found just the information I was looking for.

San Antonio River WalkRobert H. H. Hugman, an architect and a native of San Antonio, first conceived the river project in 1929 after a series of floods prompted the city to consider paving over the river, thus creating a concrete storm sewer system.

Can you imagine what a travesty that would have been?  Thank goodness Mr. Hugman had the vision to create such a beautiful masterpiece.

Hugman came up with a plan that detailed everything, including unique staircases, walkways, bridges, lush landscaping, restaurants, hotels, shops, all complete with Venetian-style boat rides.Venitian

Initial construction began in 1939 and due to disagreements with the city Hugman was fired a year later.  It wasn’t until 1961 when the city brought in some designers from Disneyland to determine the commercial potential of the river.  Hugman’s original details were used and the river was slowly transformed into the River Walk we know today.  Improvements and expansion continue to this day.

This is probably one of the cleanest, well-maintained downtowns I have ever visited.  Its beautiful, tranquil, and fun.  Al and I enjoy lunch at Casa Rio, a restaurant serving Mexican food along the River Walk since 1946.  We choose to dine inside as do most of the other guests.  At 45 degrees, it was just a tad too chilly to enjoy a meal outside along the river.  Outdoor seating at Casa Rio shown in the photos below.Casa Rio River Walk

Casa Rio

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in downtown San Antonio exploring The Alamo and the River Walk.  We wanted to take in some of the Missions and had a list of other things we wanted to see and do as well, but Mother Nature had other plans.  During our week-long stay, the weather was a roller coaster of breaking record low temperatures with on and off rain, occasionally freezing.

However, we did manage to take full advantage of those short breaks in the weather to get out and about and explore.River Walk

Next stop Fredericksburg……

Comfort at Canyon Lake

As Al and I travel around, we occasionally stumble across a location that embodies comfort.  We find ourselves in such a location at a Corps of Engineer campground at Canyon Lake in Texas, just 45 minutes north of San Antonio’s River Walk.Canyon Lake

In spite of inclement weather with record low temperatures and persistent overcast skies, we thoroughly enjoyed our week long stay.  The view out my rear window is the kind of view I relish and routinely search for.

We love parking near water and Canyon Lake provided the perfect backdrop to a beautiful campsite.  The cold dreary weather kept us indoors the majority of our stay but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the area on the couple of somewhat nice weather days we did have.Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake

Our first excursion was a visit to The Alamo and San Antonio’s River Walk.  It’s a Tuesday morning.  We hop in the truck and head into the city around 9 in the morning hoping any rush hour traffic has long past.  It turns out to be a relatively easy drive taking us about 45 minutes from the time we leave Canyon Lake until the time we’re parked in a nice parking lot…..St. Mary’s east lot.

City parking isn’t always easy when driving a pick-up truck with an extended bed.  Fortunately, we have no trouble fitting into a parking spot near Broadway and Pecan and find the $5 for the entire day to be quite a bargain.  Score!The Alamo

It’s a short and easy walk over to The Alamo where I quickly start snapping away.  It’s a brisk overcast morning with few other visitors.Alamo

The battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas revolution.  This epic battle for Texas independence took place in 1836.  There is no fee to tour this 300 year old structure, but there are a set of unique rules befitting The Alamos status as the Shrine of Texas Liberty.Alamo

Rules of Reverence –  Help Honor Their Memory

  • Gentlemen, please remove your hats inside the Shrine.
  • No open containers are allowed inside the buildings.
  • No food or drinks are allowed inside the buildings.
  • Photography is not allowed inside the buildings.
  • No camera or cell phone use is permitted inside the buildings.
  • Please do not touch the walls or display cases inside the Shrine.
  • No pets are allowed on Alamo Grounds (service animals allowed).
  • No restrooms inside the Shrine. Public restrooms located at back of grounds.
  • No obscene or offensive clothing is allowed.
  • No bikes or skateboards are allowed on the grounds.
  • Please lower your voice when speaking.
  • No unauthorized weapons are allowed. CHL allowed with permit.
  • Ice chests are allowed but must not be left unattended at any time.The Alamo

Al and I spend about an hour touring this historical landmark before venturing over to the River Walk……..

We are currently located in Benson, Arizona, making our way back to Phoenix.  The warmth of the desert is welcome but the lure of Texas is strong.  I see more Texas explorations in our future.  For now, we look forward to visiting our son in Phoenix.

No Room at the Inn

The Hilltop RV Park in Stockton, Texas proved to be a great spot to overnight.  We could’ve saved ten bucks by staying at a Passport America park but that place was literally next to the interstate.  The Hilltop RV Park, aptly named since it sits high above the interstate on a hill, was convenient and quiet and even offered a view of a lovely Texas sunset.

speed limit in Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas and faster – speed limit 80 mph

Texas is a BIG state…..How big is Texas

It’s December 29th and we’re anxious to get to our next location to stay long enough to ring in the New Year.  We hit the road shortly after sunrise knowing we have about a 5 hour drive in front of us.  Our destination is a Corps of Engineers campground at Canyon Lake just northeast of San Antonio, Texas.  We first heard about this place from fellow blogger Donna and a nice comment from her had us calling the COE to double check for vacancy.  There were three sites still available at the Cranes Mill Campground.  Potters Creek was full.

Having commitment issues lately, Al and I decide to roll the dice and not make a reservation.  By the time we arrive at the Cranes Mill Campground around 3:00 in the afternoon, we are politely turned away….no room at the Inn.  What? And no overflow lot for boondocking?  Really?  You snooze, you lose!  Plan B.

Five minutes away is a private RV Park called Rio Raft or Rio Guadalupe Resort.  They accept our Passport America discount card and we pull into a very nice pull-thru site for $17 a night with full hook-ups.  The park sits along the Guadalupe River.  We pay for one night and the next day pay for another.  Gosh, we’re indecisive.  I love it!

Guadalupe River
Guadalupe River

I had all these grand plans to explore around the Texas hill country and visit the San Antonio River walk.  Susan’s blog has been providing me with oodles of information on the area.  The cold humid air chills Al and me to the bones.  We’re just not used to this kind of weather anymore.

So these two wusses wimp out and travel on the very day they vowed not to travel….Dec. 31st.  We arrive at our Rockport, Texas destination 5 days early in some attempt to circumvent the inclement weather.  BUT just because we made it to south Texas does not mean we averted the “polar vortex” that has engulfed most of this country.  Nope, we’ve been graced with freezing rain and 25 degree F overnight temperatures.  Oh, joy!  The adventure never ends.  Thankfully, fairer weather is on the horizon.

how big is Texas
no end in sight!

Random Texas facts…

  • The bowie knife is named after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie (1796-1836).  His brother designed the hefty weapon.
  • It is still a hanging offense in Texas to steal cattle or to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.
  • It is illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse.
  • In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach.  Camels were imported into Texas in the 1850’s by the U.S. War Department in the belief that they would be handy animals to use during the Indian Wars.
  • Oscar, the Academy Award statuette, was named for Texan Oscar Pierce, whose niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  When she saw the gold statuette, she reportedly said, “Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar.”
  • At 268,601 square miles, Texas is the second largest U.S. state.  Alaska being number one.
  • Texas is the second most populous state.  California is number one.
  • Charles Alderton (1857-1941) a Waco, Texas, pharmacist, first created Dr Pepper in 1885.  The oldest working Dr Pepper plant is located 94 miles west of Waco.  Oh and there is no period after the “Dr” in Dr Pepper.
  • Each year Amarillo, Texas, hosts the World’s largest Calf Fry Cook-off.  “Calf fries” are bull testicles.
  • John Wayne and Chuck Norris are honorary Texas Rangers.  The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in North America with statewide jurisdiction.
  • The world’s largest and oldest rattlesnake roundup is held every March in Sweetwater, Texas.

AND on a final note……….here’s a photo of my friend snorkeling in Minnesota

snorkeling
snorkeling anyone?